Random Neural Firings

the inner workings of a restless creative brain

The Inspiration Behind the Exterior Paint Color


Building a house was fun. Overwhelming, at times, but the end result is a house that is uniquely ours, filled with small details and sentimental touches. Most design decisions were guided by practicality and functionality, with a modern/worldly aesthetic. I was terrified of making the wrong tile, counter, cabinet and flooring choices. I knew we wanted a clean, modern look and that would provide good bones to decorate around. But I also wanted pattern and texture and color. In the end, we kept most of the choices on the permanent (or expensive to change) items clean and simple. As we decorate the rooms, we’re throwing in Persian carpets, artwork, bright pillows and curtains that are rarely neutral.

But back to the beginning. The exterior of the house is Craftsman-inspired but we did not go full-out Craftsman inside. Like I said, we like more modern touches. We needed to come up with an exterior paint color. Craftsman lends itself to a wide variety of options. We’ve seen Craftsman homes in various shades of green, red, brown and blue. We really liked gray but felt gray might be too Colonial or cold. We loved yellow for its cheerfulness and “surprise” factor, but were advised that yellow can look creamy/dirty in different light.  We drove around for hours looking at homes to see if there was a color scheme we loved.

On one such trip, we noticed that we really liked the colors of the shirt my son had on. And so was born our exterior color scheme. Just like that. We matched the colors of this shirt:

The inspiration for our exterior paint color

And voila! Ended up with this. It’s a bit brighter blue than we thought it would be (we were going for a more blue-gray) but we like it.

Exterior paint colors: blue, brown

The exterior blue is Sherwin Williams 6250 Granite Peak. Wood trim is Sherwin Williams 6149 Relaxed Khaki. Window sashes and garage door are SW 7027 Well-Bred Brown. The roof shingles are Timberline Weathered Wood.

exterior paint choices house blue and brown

We’re this close!


This close to closing, that is. Tomorrow is the Big Day. We were supposed to close a few weeks ago but the bank we were working with was not answering our simple questions so we started the process all over again with another bank. Our builder kindly let us go ahead and move in. So we’re in the house but it won’t be officially ours until tomorrow.

This is my first time owning a home. Chris bought our last house before we had even met. I bopped around the country so much with jobs that I never felt settled in any one place long enough to buy. So tomorrow will be my first time experiencing the sign-your-life-away phenomenon that my friends have told me about. I hope it goes smoothly. And I hope my husband took the whole day off because maybe we could go to a matinee movie or a nice lunch after the closing to celebrate.

It’s funny, as we’re getting paperwork together for the bank and are in the midst of the mortgage process, I am reading “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis, which is all about the mortgage meltdown, credit default swaps and CDOs (which sadly, I have forgotten what that stands for). It’s a compelling book (he wrote “The Blind Side”) that absolutely reads like fiction – not just because what happened is UNBELIEVABLE but also because Lewis is a gifted writer. I’m about 39% done (haha – joke for you Kindle people) and so far, I’d recommend it without hesitation. I was afraid it was going to be one of those books I “needed” to read and would be a slog, but I promise you, the author breathes so much life into his characters (er, real people) and explains the technical stuff really well that it is practically a page-turner.

We’re Moved In!


It was largely uneventful which is how moves ought to be. Friends kept asking how it was going and my standard reply was that everything hurt . . . even my eyelashes. But you know, it was the standard moving aches and pains. All better now. And absolutely THRILLED to be in the house. It is GORGEOUS and comfortable and our son LOVES it. He has so much room to toddle around and play. As we get curtains hung and better organized, I’ll post pics of the inside but here are a few from moving day.

New Image


And the heavens parted and said, “You are home!”


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Friday Random Ramblings


Next week is the Big Move. I’m excited, exhausted, and terrified. I obsess over weird stuff like making sure the crib is set up by bed time. I want my son to have the least amount of disruption possible. Thankfully, the nanny is staying late on the day of the move. Cuz you know what will happen, right? I will have to stand post and tell the movers where everything goes. If they ask my husband and he doesn’t know, he will come and ask me where I think it should go. So – for just one day only – I will not get to be much of a mom. More of a project manager. And I will be outsourcing Mommy to our nanny.

Oh, the guilt.

The house is not yet safety proofed. Why is that a problem? Well, the house we’re renting is tiny and all one level. The house we’ve built is three levels (when you include the finished basement where his playroom will be). So that’s TWO sets of stairs for him to climb up and FALL DOWN! We need safety gates STAT. I had a safety dude come over and do an analysis of what we need (for some reason, writing “safety dude” reminds me of the song “Safety Dance” which was performed on Glee this week). I was oh-so-ahead-of-the-game thinking I’d review those recommendations and get the gates installed (at least).

But his recommendations remain unopened because my husband and I want to go through it together and that just hasn’t happened. <sigh>

You know what else hasn’t happened? Neither one of us has gotten utilities hooked up or transferred over. I called Comcast and they told me it could be 30-45 days because it’s new construction and they aren’t sure if they can install it. OK, first of all, this is a well-established in town neighborhood. There used to be a house here that was demolished (previous lot owner did that; not us). If I had to guess, they had cable. Our house is ENTIRELY pre-wired. All they need to do is run a line to the tap, which I’ve seen them do a million times. In fact, at our last house, we had lots of problems with our service and they ran new lines not once, not twice, but THREE times. So I know this is an easy thing to do and should not take 30-45 days.

Because of this, I am going to miss “Glee” and the “American Idol” finale and really, that’s what’s keeping me up at night.

Cuz it’s all about the TV shows, right? 🙂

Ha! Wish me luck!

The Travertine Two-Step


It seems that the trend these days is to go with travertine in showers. It’s a natural stone but it has to be sealed and re-sealed and you can’t clean it with bleach or any harsh chemicals. So my husband and I don’t get it. All the houses we looked at before we decided to build advertised “travertine master showers” like that was a big selling point. What my engineering husband hears is “maintenance issue.”

We also just got bored with travertine. Everywhere we went, we saw beige/taupe travertine “caves” like this:

So we’re rebelling against travertine a bit.

We like the look of marble, but marble chips, dings, scratches, and STAINS. I asked my decorator why it’s all over the decorating magazines and she said people love the look but that yes, it is hard to keep looking nice. With a young boy and me — a clumsy momma — we’re going to stay away from marble.

There is a quartz that looks like marble if you want a marble-looking countertop without marble maintenance. And for floors, there is a porcelain that you would swear is Carrera marble from a distance. And porcelain is virtually maintenance-free.

So that’s the tile lesson. Later, I’m going to show you what we’re thinking of doing. I’m trying to get some images and pics together and frankly, find my brain.

House Update: Picking Granite and Tile


The house is framed up and looking like a real house! Last week we looked at granite for the counter tops and tile for floors, showers and backsplashes. It was fun but a bit much to process. I still don’t get how to pick stuff out in such a silo. I need an idea of the whole room – then I can pick the finishes.  In fact, the kitchen, which is the only room I’ve thought through, was easy and quick. We’re planning to have white kitchen cabinets with black counters and a black island with a white counter. White subway tiles on the wall. So at the granite store (shop, factory, warehouse – whatever you call this place), I just needed to look at the black granite in our price range. And since we’d ruled out marble because it stains and chips, but we wanted something that looked sort of marble-like, we just looked at the white granite that had veins and striations. Easy. And the subway tile? The sales person showed me two different white ones and said she had another one she could pull out that was a few dollars more per square foot. Huh? I said, no thanks, I can manage just fine with my choices here. Plain white subway tile. Really.

So we were cooking along till we got to the part where the decorator told us we had to pick out granite and tile for ALL THE OTHER BATHROOMS. That’s three more full baths plus a powder room. Then it was just a free-for-all. It all looks good. But I have no context – no idea to build this all on. We went ahead and picked some stuff but have a few weeks to change our minds so I will be frantically looking at pictures all weekend to get ideas.

But hey, that’s kind of fun! I’m certainly not complaining.

Yesterday, Chris met the electrician and figured out stuff like which rooms to pre-wire for speakers. I totally don’t get that. Today, I asked the builder, “why do we need speakers in our master bedroom ceiling?” I mean, like, where is the radio dial to control that sound? And you know where it is, don’t you? In the basic system, it would be DOWNSTAIRS. Why would I run downstairs to turn on music? Why wouldn’t I just stick my iPod in a desktop speaker system? Exactly. Our builder said we don’t need speakers in our master bedroom and that he never uses his. Maybe just the dining room and porch so if we have company over, we can have the same music playing throughout the main entertaining areas. OK, so we have that solved.

Back to the granite and tile!

Here are some pics from my camera phone if you’re interested in what we selected:

The white granite for the kitchen island

island granite

Possible master bath tile

master bath tile

The House – The House is Giving me a Headache


Last week, we had the walk through of the house at the framing stage. VERY exciting to see the outline of a real “house” there. VERY stressful to be asked a million questions like this:

Come into this room, switch here for light, fan, over here is where your center light will go. You can have can lights, too. Do you want cans? Where do you want electrical outlets? Which walls, how many? High up (like for wall-mounted cable) or low? Do you like the windows here in this room? What about over here? Closet door goes here, opens this way. Everything good? OK, onto the next room.

I’M SORRY BUT THAT IS TOO DAMN MANY THINGS FOR ME TO ANSWER ALL AT ONCE! I have NO idea if I want recessed lighting in the basement den or the home office or anywhere other than the kitchen. I hadn’t thought about it. I like to weigh the pros and cons, think through how this will help or potentially hurt me with decorating options later on. I like to peruse magazines and pictures online to get a feel for things.

Basically, I needed to have put together a plan to decorate EACH AND EVERY ROOM IN THE HOUSE before the framing walk thru so I could have an idea of what was happening in each room which in turn would have given me more confidence to answer the builder’s questions.

And I had a few questions of my own. Like our breakfast nook. Our wonderful, much dreamed-about feature. The one and only thing I had a picture to show the builder. (“Show us a picture, we’ll build it,” he said.) Here’s our inspiration picture:


But our breakfast nook is TOO small. We’ll have to have a table built and even with the smallest possible table, there is NO room for chairs on the front side (and no room for more than 2 of our plates). It’s too close to the kitchen island so there would be no room to walk. THIS MEANS THERE’S NO ROOM FOR A HIGH CHAIR. WHICH MEANS I MIGHT HAVE TO ACTUALLY USE THE FREAKIN’ DINING ROOM ALL THE TIME CUZ I DON’T KNOW WHERE/HOW ELSE WE’LL EAT. THE BREAKFAST NOOK IS UNUSABLE. The architect was an idiot about this area. Great on other things but left his measuring tape in the car when he designed the nook. The nook, my favorite, beautiful, cozy place where the family (and a couple of friends) were going to enjoy meals, play cards, and relax. The nook that now might be the “kids table” at Thanksgiving.

I am pissed.

One solution is to move the door that leads from the nook to the patio; we’d have to move it into the great room. So as you enter the house and walk down the hall, you would see a door at the end of the hall. Not a tragedy. But that doesn’t give us room for chairs. That just gives us room to make the built-in banquette a little longer on one end so a person can sit. In order to get room for chairs, we have to decrease the size of our island.

Now, our island is our main prep surface. It’s currently configured for a sink with about 2′ of space on either side for prep. Dishwaser on one side, trash pull out on the other. Looks like I’m going to lose the trash pullout and have to have a trash can sitting out somewhere. Again, not a tragedy. But lopping off the island means I’m losing prep space and storage below.

I’m pissed, I tell ya. We have a dining room (which we’ll rarely use) that’s too big and a kitchen with an eat-in nook that’s too small (and that we’ll use all the time).

I hope I don’t hate it when it’s all said and done.

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Let the Framing Begin!


They dug the hole. They poured some concrete, made some walls and now they’re framing up the house! Again, I don’t really know the technical terms but this is pretty exciting stuff!

New Image

Last week, we went to a kitchen cabinets place to pick cabinet styles. We already knew what we wanted in the kitchen (Shaker style) so it was a simple matter of choosing which Shaker style cabinet and which finish. (That one! In white!) But because these things are never easy, we were also supposed to pick out the bath cabinetry, laundry room, and butler’s pantry. Well, I haven’t researched all that yet so I have homework to do.

Over the weekend, we stopped by Mitchell Williams + Bob Gold. It’s a great furniture store with a fabulous design aesthetic and wonderful “vibe.” The founders are VERY family-friendly and are known for the great daycare they provide their employees. They are having a big floor sample sale so I took my hubby in there and — just as I suspected — he loved their stuff! They have free design services and we have an appointment to meet with their designer this week. He’s going to help us get a plan together for the WHOLE house and then we can buy stuff here and there as I see it go on sale. (And because they’re so wonderful, they will even help you pick stuff out at OTHER stores!) It will probably take me five years to get it all together, but that’s part of the fun of it. I just really need someone to make sense of all my ideas and make sure I don’t have a Holly Hobby house. . . cuz left to my own devices, each room would be FABULOUS and completely DIFFERENT from one another. You’d have mid-century modern here, arts and crafts there, transitional here . . . dashes of orange in the great room, hot pink in the entry, steel gray in the dining room . . . and well, you get the idea. A room I can do. A house I cannot.

So Ben at Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams – I already love you.

One last picture of my little lumberjack and hubby at the house site.

little lumberjack

Friday Random Ramblings – the Knock-Off Edition


Last night, my husband and I went to his office party which was at a Maggiano’s in a mall. To get to the restaurant, we had to walk past ZGallerie which had signs pasted all over the doors advertising 30% off everything in the store. Another store closing! (Just this location, thank goodness; there are still two other locations in Atlanta.) I squealed and pulled Chris in the store. We were planning to buy their Linear Strand chandelier for the new dining room. 30% off would be even better! They had one left – hanging up high – and we snagged it up, along with a very cool piece of horizontal art that will make a perfect headboard in the guest room.

We actually fell in love with the Cellula Chandelier from DesignWithinReach (Design “Out of” Reach, my husband says) years ago but never wanted to fork out $2,600 for a chandelier. One day, I saw the Linear Strand – a decent knock-off at ZGallerie – for a mere $349 and the decision was made. Bonus points to us that we got it on sale last night.

Here’s the Cellula ($2,600) from DWR:

And the Linear Strand (reg. $349/on sale for $245)  from ZGallerie:

Now, up close, I can see a difference in the two certainly, but not a $2,300 difference! What do you think?

While I’m on the subject of knock-offs — or bargain hunting — last week, we were shopping for sinks and faucets. We’re going pretty basic throughout the house except the powder room and the master bath. In the powder room, we want to make a statement. Not sure what kind of statement yet, but we were thinking of doing a cool mosaic backsplash and painting the walls a bold or dark color. Then we saw this mosaic sink and went gaga. We went even more gaga at the price ($1,700 and up). That’s just stupid.

So I came home and Googled it and guess what I found? Pretty decent-looking mosaic sinks at Overstock for $250-350. That’s more like it! (I was actually thinking of making one myself because I used to do mosaics as a hobby but for $250, I’ll let someone else have the hand cramps.)

Let’s hope my bargain hunting luck continues. We have a whole lot of house to go still! Today, we’re going to look at appliances. The builder needs to know our choices so they can size everything right in the kitchen.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Random Ramblings


My best friend’s 10-year old daughter is in the Nutcracker this weekend and I’m going to see her perform today. This is her fifth year (or maybe sixth?) performing and it’s been fun to see her move up from hopping across the stage in a bunny costume to performing in two scenes this year. I’m so proud of her!

Last night, my son “cruised” for the first time, pushing his wagon walker across the living room. Very exciting!

And yesterday, we met with both the builder and decorator for our home. We made a few minor changes to the floor plan, like moving windows around, and made a lot of color and finish choices. We selected the exterior color (a blue-gray) with light tan accents and a dark Chestnut wood for the doors. We got the inspiration for the color palette from one of my son’s outfits!

I was at a marketing association lunch the other day and sat at a table of folks who work for a staffing company. They tell me that their business is growing and orders are up. I’m hopeful this means the economy has turned the corner since jobs are a lagging indicator.

What’s open in my browser? Well, I’m still shopping so Amazon is up, Red Envelope is up, and Toys R Us is up. Later today, I plan to do a holiday card so I imagine I’ll be spending some time on Shutterfly. But in terms of what might be interesting to you, check out these sites:

DesignPublic – a great site with modern furniture, accessories, and lots and lots of gifts. Plus kids stuff! You’ll find everything from Jonathan Adler to Thomas Frank to Dwell to Amenity here. Happy browsing!

CoolMomPicks Holiday Gift Guide – I always think I have good gift ideas until I check out their gift guide and realize I am SUCH an amateur. They have such great ideas and discounts on a lot of them. If you’re stuck for someone on your list, check them out.

Parenting.com’s Toy Contest – You may enter twice a day until Dec. 14th to win $900 worth of their selections for toys of the year. Get all your relatives without kids to enter, too, and increase your chance of winning!

Hope you all have a great weekend! We’re going to take the tot to Gymboree tomorrow and hit up some showrooms for interior house ideas (cabinets, tile, etc.). Atlanta’s supposed to be cold and rainy tomorrow, though, so that may put a damper on activities. What do you have planned?

And So It Begins . . .


the lot

A new chapter in our lives. The one where we move  into a too-tiny rental house so we could be a few blocks away from the lot where we’re building our dream home.

We’ve nearly finalized the plans — or they’re finalized enough for the builder to start digging. There is a fence around the lot now — my husband calls it a “silt fence” — for erosion control. The utility companies have marked where stuff is. (Don’t you like my technical terms?) The builder is getting the dig machine over there (another technical term). So possibly, just maybe, we’ll start excavation today!

I thought about starting another blog to track the progress, but gosh, I don’t feel like setting up another one and since this one is already RANDOM, I hope you’ll indulge me if I blog about the build here. I’ll mark all these posts “green home” so you’ll know which ones to ignore if you’re not interested!

And if you are interested, or know people who are curious about what’s involved with building an energy-efficient, somewhat sustainable (hence “green”) home, spread the word. I’ll do my best to explain things!

The pic is of my munchkin the other day. We walked over to the lot and grabbed a shot of him with the signs. For those of you not from around here, the Earth Craft sign is a regional (Southeast) certification that the house meets certain rigorous energy-efficiency standards. There really isn’t a standard that says a house is “green.” You could go with LEEDS certification which is a national ratings system for green building. It seems to be used more in commercial than residential construction. Not sure if we’ll go for LEEDS (although from our specs and process, I believe we’d qualify easily) because the certification is so much more expensive than Earth Craft certification and not as well known down here.

So here we are, at the starting gate. Are you ready? On your marks, get set, BUILD!

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